Drug abuse has plagued the American continent since the 1800s, when morphine, heroin and cocaine were hailed for their amazing curative properties. In the 1960s many new and exotic drugs, such as hallucinogens, benzodiazepines, amphetamines and marijuana, became readily available and the street drug trend became a booming industry. People from all walks of life are paying big money to purchase street drugs illegally. Housewives, executives, and lawyers are among some of the cash purchasers. Buying drugs off the street is as easy as sending a text message to the local neighborhood dealer and having him or her deliver your drugs at your doorstep in exchange for cash. These new trendy street drugs do not show up on a typical urine drug screen performed in the emergency room; often times leaving medical professionals stumped. The world of addiction is changing from prescription painkillers to synthetic drugs made from household ingredients like bleach, battery acid and rubbing alcohol. Even though prescription painkillers are the most widely abused substance besides alcohol, synthetic street drugs are on the rise. According to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use an estimated 24.6 million Americans aged 12 or older were current illicit drug users. Within the past year 169,000 persons aged 12 or older had used heroin for the first time, 751,000 people used Ecstasy for their first time, 563,000 persons aged 12 or older who had used inhalants for the first time and 32,000 persons aged 12 years or older used PCP for their first time.
Desomorphine, known by the street name krokodil and the zombie drug, is an opioid derivative of codeine that leaves these drug users with rotting skin, dead tissue and exposed bones, resembling that of a crocodile. Users mix codeine with a loom of toxins such as paint thinner, gasoline lighter fluid, red phosphorus scraped from the strike pads on matchboxes, and hydrochloric acid resulting in a yellow putrid smelling murky liquid that is directly injected into the bloodstream producing the same effects as heroin for a fraction of the cost. A dose of krokodil costs just a few dollars, compared with about $20 for a hit of heroin. These users have an average lifespan of 2-3 years.
Butane Hash Oil
Butane Hash Oil commonly known as BHO or “dabs” is a marijuana oil extract that is pure THC made by blasting the marijuana with butane, an extremely flammable gas, leaving only the THC behind. People are making this oil at home causing a lot of BHO explosions due to the butane. Not only can one get their face burned off while making this substance but it is common knowledge that even the purest THC oil will contain butane that was not burned off; inhaling butane does not sound safe.
Alpha-Pyrrolidinopentiophenone, a synthetic stimulant that is similar to the active ingredient found in bath salts hit the streets in a drug known as flakka or gravel in 2013. This synthetic stimulant mimics the physical look of pebbles and causes people to become extremely aggressive, paranoid, and filled with adrenaline-like strength; causing harm to themselves and others.
The sedative known as Quaalude in the United States and as Mandrax in the United Kingdom are tablets that are usually powdered and smoked with a mixture of cannabis or tobacco in a bottleneck pipe called a “white pipe” or “witwyf”. Mathaqualone was initially used as an anti-malarial drug in India but is now sold on the streets under the name “ludes”. Take too much of it and you’ll feel nauseous, lose consciousness or fall into a stupor or even die. Tolerance and physical dependence can develop from this depressant which acts by increasing GABA activity in the brain.
Khat contains the active ingredient cathinone, an amphetamine-like stimulant, which is said to cause excitement, loss of appetite and euphoria. It is endemic to the horn of Africa and parts of the Middle East where its fresh leaves and tops are chewed or, less frequently, dried and consumed as tea, to achieve a state of euphoria and stimulation. It is also consumed at social gatherings and is part of many African and Middle Eastern cultures. The leaves must be fresh in order to obtain the euphoric feeling and that is why it has stayed in its endemic region until recently. This plant is now being exported to countries all over the world by air transportation however it is banned by 28 states in the U.S. The increased immigration from countries such as Ethiopia, Yemen and Somalia has fueled the demand of this illegal substance in the United States and has led to a cultural conflict.
Although street drugs such as heroin, methamphetamines and cocaine may be more popular since they have been around for a longer time period, these newer street drugs listed above are taking over the drug market because they are inexpensive, easy to make and even easier to buy. In general, we, as a human population are creative and explorative; however exploring dangerous substances can lead us down a scary road to addiction and even death.